When you're a hockey star born in Winnipeg and your hometown is thisclose to landing another NHL franchise, you're guaranteed to be peppered with questions about it.
Especially when you have a lake named after you in the same province, in honor of your winning a gold medal and a Stanley Cup.
So Winnipeg-born Jonathan Toews has been asked about the Atlanta Thrashers' probable relocation to the former home of the Jets, oh, roughly a billion times in the last month. He did a public appearance in Winnipeg this weekend to support Jumpstart, a charity that helps financially disadvantaged children participate in sports. He signed autographs at a Canadian Tire for $10 a pop, all of it going to the charity.
(No one from True North slipped him a contract, as far as we can tell.)
Toews was asked about the NHL in Winnipeg, and offered some supportive but understated answers given that the deal isn't done. From the Winnipeg Sun:
Like most NHLers, he's reserving comment until it actually happens, but it doesn't mean he's not pumped about the prospect of it happening. "It's natural for everyone in Winnipeg to be excited about an NHL team coming back," he said. "If so, that would be great."
The relocation of the Thrashers to Winnipeg would also give Toews the chance to play in his hometown a little more regularly. "The exhibition game we got to play in Winnipeg here last year was exciting, because it was my first game in Winnipeg since I was about 14 years old," he said. "If I get the chance to do it a little more often, I won't complain about it."
"People here are starving for an NHL team," Toews said Saturday morning during a break from signing autographs at the Canadian Tire at Kenaston and McGillivray boulevards. "They would treat the players really well. Not everyone knows a lot about Winnipeg. The cold weather makes (players) nervous. They don't realize it now, but they'll enjoy it when they're here."
Toews said he is constantly being asked by friends and others if he wants to play for his hometown team. "I love Chicago. The fans are great there," said the team's captain.
He's also signed with the Chicago Blackhawks through 2015, and by that time the new Winnipeg team should have already relocated to Scottsdale. (Just jokes, 'Peggers. Save your snowballs.) But if and when he goes UFA after that deal … hoo boy, that's going to be a full-court press from Winnipeg to bring Jonathan closer to Lake Toews.